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INTRODUCING SMITHERS… THE FAMILY HAMSTER! AIN’T SHE SWEET?

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DOUBLE INDEMNITY. (1944) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

double indemnityDOUBLE INDEMNITY. (1944) DIRECTED BY BILLY WILDER. SCREENPLAY BY BILLY WILDER AND RAYMOND CHANDLER. FROM THE NOVEL BY JAMES M. CAIN.

STARRING FRED MACMURRAY, BARBARA STANWYCK AND EDWARD G. ROBINSON.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘I killed him for the money. And for a woman. I didn’t get the money, and I didn’t get the woman.’

Walter Neff, insurance agent.

You can tell from the writing credits (Wilder, Chandler, Cain) just why DOUBLE INDEMNITY is one of the best and darkest film noir thrillers ever made. And the performances don’t exactly suck either.

On the contrary, they shimmer and steam with tension and desire all the way through. Not just with sexual desire, although there’s plenty of that, but with the desire to enrich oneself financially while simultaneously ridding oneself of the millstone around one’s neck, a husband who’s outlived his usefulness. It’s the old, old story, isn’t it?

Fred MacMurray, a fine handsome slice of ‘Forties beefcake, plays Walter Neff, an insurance agent who finds himself one afternoon in the lavish home of bored housewife Phyllis Dietrichson, portrayed here by Barbara Stanwyck. Walter doesn’t mind that her husband, the wealthy breadwinner to whom he would have pitched his sales spiel, is out. He couldn’t care less about the husband once he claps eyes on the wife.

Phyllis, the second wife of this Dietrichson fella, is stunningly beautiful, and don’t she just know it? Her glossy blonde hair falls in artlessly silky rolls and waves, her make-up is flawless and she dresses to seduce, with bling and cling wherever you choose to look.

Walter is immediately smitten with her. The sight of the slim, slinky gold chain winking expensively around one elegantly crossed ankle is his undoing. Bam! He’s in love, head-over-heels in love, and the attraction is mutual.

The conversation turns to murder surprisingly quickly. Walter initially walks out on Phyllis when he susses out that she wants to take out a whopping insurance policy on her cruel, abusive husband, then arrange a little ‘accident’ for the unfortunate man shortly afterwards.

But it doesn’t take long for the spider to lure the fly back into her parlour, which smells heavily of honeysuckle. ‘Murder smells like honeysuckle,’ I betcha ya didn’t know that. The fly takes the bait.

The stage is set for the demise of Mister Dietrichson. The two conspirators concoct a plan that has always seemed to me to be needlessly complex and dangerous. Too much could go wrong. Too much does…

Why does Walter do it? He loves her, of course, and he desires her more than he’s ever desired any woman in his life before. The money is not to be sniffed at either. But there’s another reason. It’s almost a matter of pride with him.

He’s an insurance agent, right? Day after day, he sits in his office reading fraudulent claims put in by people who think that they can fiddle their insurance. Walter and his boss Keyes, played by Edward G. Robinson in magnificent form, know every single trick in the book. Hell, they wrote the goddamned book.

Walter quite fancies the idea of being able to use his eleven years of inside knowledge to pull off the ultimate fool-proof insurance scam. But there’s no such thing as the perfect murder. And Walter always knew that Keyes would worry and worry at this case from the moment he got the bit between his teeth. Keyes can smell a fraud a mile off.

What Walter doesn’t know is that Dietrichson’s daughter Lola, between whom and Phyllis there is no love lost, has some rather disturbing information on Phyllis. It might just shed some light on the character of the woman whom, after all, Walter barely knows. It concerns Dietrichson’s first wife and the manner in which she died…

The sexual tension between the two leads is palpable. The swift, snappy quickfire dialogue they utter in their first few scenes together is a sheer delight to watch. It positively crackles with electricity. It was written by men who knew their stuff, goddammit.

double indemnitydouble indemnitydouble indemnityWhen Walter and Phyllis first sleep together in Walter’s apartment on a gorgeously rainy night, you’ll see no more than the aftermath of Phyllis adjusting her blouse and Walter smoking on the couch with his shoes off, but it’s as suggestively sultry as if you’d seen them actually engage in sexual intercourse.

Of course, they knew how to do things back then. These old ‘Forties thrillers were masterful at showing without telling, if you know what I mean. A fierce embrace and the music rising to a powerful crescendo was all they needed back then to imply mind-blowing, life-changing sex, the kind of sex you’ll remember for the rest of your days.

Those were the good old days, huh? And DOUBLE INDEMNITY is one of the best examples of its genre, one of the finest of all the film noir thrillers. If you haven’t already seen it, go and find it and watch it. It’ll weave its magic on you too. I say let it.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

FEAR IN THE NIGHT and STRAIGHT ON TILL MORNING: A DOUBLE BILL OF HAMMER HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

straight on till morning peterFEAR IN THE NIGHT and STRAIGHT ON TILL MORNING: A DOUBLE BILL OF HAMMER HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

FEAR IN THE NIGHT. (1972) DIRECTED, PRODUCED AND CO-WRITTEN BY JIMMY SANGSTER. STARRING RALPH BATES, JUDY GEESON, JOAN COLLINS, JAMES COSSINS AND PETER CUSHING.

STRAIGHT ON TILL MORNING. (1972) DIRECTED BY PETER COLLINSON. PRODUCED BY MICHAEL CARRERAS. STARRING RITA TUSHINGHAM, SHANE BRIANT, JAMES BOLAM AND KATYA WYETH.

‘Second star to the right, straight on till morning…’

I love, love, LOVE these two films, which I recently watched back-to-back courtesy of my lovely new twenty-one film Hammer Horror boxset. Yes, I know that I’m late to this party but I’ve always liked to make a spectacular entrance, lol.

It’s both ironic and apt that I should have chosen these two horror movies to go together. I hadn’t a clue when so doing that they’d been released together as a double bill back in the day, a double bill I would have adored to see on the big screen. The theme of both films revolves around female hysteria and mental fragility so they do actually sit really well together.

As it is, I was nearly incoherent with excitement at having brilliant new Hammer films to watch. New to me, that is. And at first I thought that FEAR IN THE NIGHT couldn’t be topped, so fantastic was it. Until I saw STRAIGHT ON TILL MORNING, that is

FEAR IN THE NIGHT sees the darkly attractive Ralph Bates (THE HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN, LUST FOR A VAMPIRE, TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA) playing a school-teacher called Robert Heller, who has just married a woman he’s known for only a few weeks. Nothing like a whirlwind courtship, eh?

Peggy, who works as a carer to an elderly woman before her marriage to Robert, is blonde, pretty but possibly a bit dim. She also has some unresolved mental issues. Robert must really love her to have taken her on as his wife, with all her mental and emotional baggage, eh…?

The night before Peggy is to leave her job and go to live with Robert, she is attacked in her flat by a seemingly one-armed man dressed in black. This isn’t a good omen, surely.

The police aren’t called because the doctor and Peggy’s elderly charge both agree that poor Peggy’s been under a lot of strain lately. That’s tantamount to saying that she’s imagining things, isn’t it…? Not terribly complimentary, anyway.

The newly-weds are going to live in a nice chalet or lodge-house on the grounds of the posh boys’ boarding-school where Robert works. Term hasn’t started yet and the school is empty of snobby little schoolboys when Peggy takes a tentative look around it by herself.

Well, she’s not quite by herself. She bumps into Michael Carmichael, the school’s headmaster, played by Hammer royalty Peter Cushing. He unnerves her by asking her to let down her pretty blonde hair, an intimate request that it would be more appropriate for a husband to make than a complete stranger, surely. Peggy is glad to get away from him.

If Michael Carmichael has unnerved her, then his wife Molly, played by a young-looking and glamorous Joan Collins, sets her teeth on edge with her patronising, bitchy and rather bossy treatment of Peggy.

Well, she is a headmaster’s wife after all and probably used to bossing people around, but this headmaster’s wife is a glossy, brittle super-bitch whose artificial veneer of hospitality doesn’t fool Peggy. Which is funny, because Peggy, as we see later, is exceptionally easy to fool. She’s malleable, pliable, vulnerable, impressionable and a prime target for ‘gaslighting…’

To her absolute horror, Peggy soon discovers that her one-armed attacker has followed her here to her safe little country abode. Robert has serious fears for her mental state.

Is Peggy crazy, or is there something nasty and sinister going on in this supposedly empty boarding- school? Is the school really as empty as we’re meant to believe? These are questions to which we’ll need answers before the curtain comes down on the final act…

All the four leads are excellent but I also loved the inclusion of James Cossins here as the doctor who looks Peggy over after the first attack by the, um, one-armed bandit, lol. He co-starred in THE ANNIVERSARY as one of Bette Davis’s messed-up sons, the cross-dressing one, and he’s given memorable performances also in SOME MOTHERS DO ‘AVE ‘EM and FAWLTY TOWERS.

In SOME MOTHERS DO ‘AVE ‘EM, he plays a man giving a course on Public Relations. All good so far, except that one of his pupils is the socially inept and accident-prone Frank Spencer. Suffice it to say that he’ll need time off after he’s given his course to have his Frank-induced nervous breakdown.

In FAWLTY TOWERS, Mister Cossins plays the man who sells outboard motors for a living but whom Basil has mistaken for the dreaded Hotel Inspector. ‘The wine has reacted with the cork and gone bad.’ The relief felt by Basil when he realises that he’s got the wrong man- yet again- is positively palpable. James Cossins is excellent at playing that type of well-spoken posh bloke.

STRAIGHT ON TILL MORNING, its title taken from childrens’ fairytale PETER PAN by J.M Barrie, blew me away completely. Rita Tushingham plays Brenda, a young woman who writes fairy stories for fun and whose head is permanently in the clouds. She could even have mental problems or be delusional. She’s not quite the full shilling by a long stretch.

Her behaviour at the start of the film is bizarre. Though she’s not pregnant, she tells her Mum that she is and that she’s off to London to find a father for her baby. Cuckoo…! She gets a job in a boutique and moves into a flat-share with one of her co-workers, the beautiful party-girl Caroline, and even goes to her first party, dressed of course like Ma Ingalls, lol.

A small dog is the means by which she meets and moves in with Peter, a stunningly good-looking, languid blonde hippy-ish type who lives in a fancy apartment and swans about doing nothing all day, or so it seems.

He’s seemingly independently wealthy and doesn’t need to work. At least, he’s got a drawer full of cash and he won’t say where it comes from, which is odd and even a little suspicious. It’s hard to imagine him working at anything, anyway. He’s just too damned languid…!

They’re an unlikely pairing, but Peter sees something in the Plain-Jane Brenda that strikes a chord within him. She’s not beautiful like he is but for some reason he’s okay with this. This is what he wants from a woman right now. He re-christens her ‘Wendy’ to his Peter (as in Peter Pan) and they sit around telling each other fairy stories. Ever so languidly, of course.

One of Peter’s stories, in particular, should make the dozey Brenda want to run for the hills but Brenda believes she’s finally found a man she can have her longed-for baby with. Astonishingly, Peter says he’s agreeable to fathering this kiddie but Peter is as mad as a box of frogs.

There’s no two ways about it. He’s damaged goods and his grip on reality is tenuous to say the least. It’s even more fragile than Brenda’s, and she’s a fruit-loop. What has happened to the divinely attractive Peter to send him off his rocker like that? The key is in the story he tells, the one that Brenda fails to interpret correctly.

How can one broken, mentally unsound person cure another? They can’t, of course. The pair can only enable each other to fulfil the worst of their potential until irreparable damage has been done. Peter and Brenda are on a collision course to disaster. Will anyone be left standing after the crash…?

Both these films kept me gripped right till the end, especially STRAIGHT ON TILL MORNING. The friend with whom I watched both films said that she didn’t know that Hammer made horror movies that weren’t about Dracula, the Mummy or Frankenstein’s Monster and she kept expecting Christopher Lee to pop in, fangs and cape and all. Well, anyone who knows me knows that I’d be all in favour of that, lol.

Anyway, we both absolutely loved these tense, taut and infinitely atmospheric psychological horrors. Perfect specimens from the Hammer vault of terror and suspense. Marvellous viewing for whenever you feel the need for the icy-cold, clammy fingers of Death on your shoulder…straight on till morning peterstraight on till morning peter

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

THE GEORGE FORMBY FILM COLLECTION. (1941- 1946) REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

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THE GEORGE FORMBY FILM COLLECTION. (1941-1946) DIRECTED BY MARCEL VARNEL AND STARRING LANCASHIRE’S OWN GEORGE FORMBY.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Rediscover the magic of ‘The Ukelele Man’ himself- George Formby- with seven of his very finest films!

George Formby was Britain’s biggest box-office star when he moved to Columbia Studios to make these seven fabulous comedy musicals- full of hit songs and packed with daft and inspired comedy in the true Formby style!

Finally released from the film vaults and digitally remastered for optimum sound and picture quality, these seven films are now available to own for the very first time in one very special DVD boxset!’

SONY PICTURES HOME ENTERTAINMENT.

‘Eeeeeeeeh, it’s turned out nice again, ha’nt it…?’

My teenage son and I went out specifically to look for George Formby films after hearing him singing his wonderful comic song ‘I’m leaning on a lamp-post on the corner of the street in case a certain little lady passes by’ on a gorgeous CD called WARTIME MEMORIES, which I’ve been listening to since Christmas.

And why was I listening to a CD called WARTIME MEMORIES, you might ask me? Well, I watched CASABLANCA on Christmas Eve on Irish television, all by myself in the deepening gloom, and ever since then I’ve craved as much ‘Forties music as I can get my hands on. Anything ‘Forties, really. Music, films, memorabilia and whatever else is out there.

We found this seven-film boxset in one of our favourite places to buy movies and music, and set about watching ’em with the diligence and enthusiasm of a mouse who finds himself unexpectedly alone with a wheel of Brie.

It’s as good an introduction to the films of this special little funny man as ever you’re likely to find, so if you’re thinking of getting to know the movies of George Formby yourself, you could do a lot worse. Eeeeeeeeeh…!

George Formby (1904-1961) is the undisputed star of all seven films. With his gormless, pleasantly toothsome face and the trademark wide grin, he sings and jokes his way through the scripts in much the same way each time.

He’s never a rich posh toff, he’s always a working-class stiff (usually called George!) trying to make ends meet, but it doesn’t bother our George at all that he wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Whatever the weather, George is always in a good mood and as nice as a cake made of pie (Ned Flanders, THE SIMPSONS) to everyone he meets.

If he gets bullied by bigger, tougher men, he might get knocked about but he’ll always get back up. He’s got an unerring sense of justice and fair play, he loves his country dearly and would punch any traitor on the nose for daring to say a bad word against his beloved England.

As these particular films were mostly made during the Second World War, you’ll find George preparing to fight the Nazis in a few of them. There are jokes against Hitler, Goering and Goebbels in them specifically and the patriotism in them would do your heart good. Eeeeh, they would at that…!

There’s a certain kind of England conjured up in each film that’s mostly gone now, an England of cheeky little scamps shouting the news of the day on street corners as they sell their papers, sailors home on shore-leave with the words ‘loose lips sink ships’ ringing in their ears and war savings bonds on sale everywhere you look to aid the war effort.

Bobbies still had chin-straps and said ‘Now you just come alonger me’ to suspicious characters or rum-looking coves, going to the pictures cost next to nothing (you need to take out a bank loan these days for a night out at the flicks!) and it was common practice to hide behind the sofa when the landlord came calling for the rent.

And don’t forget the blackout curtains and the little evacuees and the air-raid sirens and the nights in the bunkers while Hitler’s Luftwaffe droned relentlessly overhead. Women drew stocking seams down the backs of their legs because real nylons were rare. Oh, happy days…!

There aren’t many folks alive today who remember this tumultuous era first-hand but we know that, as straitened as circumstances often were back then, people always had their lovely memories of the time. Maybe some of your Great-Grannies and Great-Grandads even went to see George Formby at the pictures and have good memories of so doing. Eeeeeeh, i’n’t life grand…!

George sings three, four or even five songs in each of the films, often accompanying himself on his beloved ukelele, and here’s something else about the films. You wouldn’t take George for a ladies’ man, would you, but in every single movie he gets the girl of his dreams with only a modicum of effort, and you know what little belters those ‘Forties dames were.

Of course, he was the star and the star always gets the girl. Or does it just go to show you that nice guys don’t, in fact, necessarily always finish last? George hasn’t a bad bone in his body, he’s a tad goofy-looking and if a woman came onto him he’d be just as likely to run off shrieking ‘Mother!,’ but the nice girlies all love our Georgie. ‘Well, I’ll go to our ‘ouse…!’

Let’s have a quick run-down of the seven films on the boxset before we finish. In SOUTH AMERICAN GEORGE (1941), George’s coincidental resemblance to an opera singer (without being able to sing a note of opera!) leads him into a situation where he can help a lovely lady out if he’ll just play the part of the absentee opera singer for a bit. That’s if he doesn’t get his head blown off by some rum coves first…!

MUCH TOO SHY (1942) is an hilarious romp and mine and my son’s favourite film in the boxset. George, a handyman and artist who designs the film posters for the local cinema, takes an art class to teach him to give the womens’ heads he draws fabulous bodies to go with their free-floating craniums. But when some scandalous nudie pictures of local ladies mysteriously turn up in the papers, bodies an’ all, guess who gets the blame…!

This one features comedian Jimmy Clitheroe as George’s wise-beyond-his-years little brother. ‘Show me a woman and I’ll show you trouble…!’ Fans of the CARRY-ON movies will be thrilled to see a ridiculously young-looking Charles Hawtrey in this one as a ‘brother brush’ of George’s, and our favourite comic song, ‘I’m Delivering The Morning Milk’ is in it too.

GET CRACKING (1943) is a full-on, all-out World War Two film that sees the hapless George joining the LDF or LOCAL DEFENCE VOLUNTEERS. While he cares for a little girl evacuee and builds his own honest-to-God tank in his spare time out of odds-and-ends, he has great fun also trying to get one over on a rival LDF platoon. The enemy is Hitler, George! Wouldn’t it be better if you rival LDF chaps joined forces? It’s just a thought…

BELL-BOTTOM GEORGE (1944) is another war film that sees George joining the Navy in a case of mistaken identity, while dating a pretty WREN and accidentally cracking a spy ring that the British government has been trying to track down themselves.

George has always wanted to be in the Navy though. Maybe his efforts in uncovering the spy ring and entertaining the troops with his little ukelele might be enough to gain him admission? We’ll see what the man whose uniform he’s wearing has got to say about that…! Charles Hawtrey is here too, plus the world’s oddest-sounding crickets.

HE SNOOPS TO CONQUER (1945) sees George working as a lowly tea-boy for the corrupt Tangleton local council. When he’s tasked with surveying the entire population of Tangleton as to their working and living conditions, George does a thorough job of it.

So thorough, in fact, that he accidentally unmasks the local councillors for the lying, pocket-lining rats they are and exposes the terrible disparity between rich and poor in post-war Tangleton. Eeeeeh, some of the films have a nice bit of social commentary in ’em an’ all, you know, lol.

George also gets entangled (in Tangleton) with a wacky toff inventor and his attractive daughter in this one, and the excellent comic song ‘If You Want To Get Your Picture In The Press, You Must Be Different, Some Kind Of Way’ is here too.

I DIDN’T DO IT (1945) sees George set off to the Big Smoke to pursue a career on the stage with his recitations and comic songs, only to find himself accused of the murder of a rich man in the same boarding-house.

The way George innocently lands himself in trouble with the police with his unfailing honesty is so funny here, and the back-story of the murder is really exciting, reminding me of old German silent movie star Emil Jannings in VARIETÉ.

GEORGE ON CIVVY STREET (1946) sees a hopeful George being debriefed and finally sent home from the war. He’s looking forward to running the old family pub again, in its charming rural location, and hooking up once more with the girl he more than likes.

But she owns a rival pub, you see, and now it’s run by scurrilous individuals who want to see George out of business. Will they succeed in their fiendish plan? This one includes a naughty, wholly unforeseen strip-a-gram that had myself and my son in stitches.

Most of the songs contain the sauciest of sexual innuendo that saw George in trouble with the BBC back in the day. I understand that crotchety old Auntie Beeb wasn’t at all impressed with ‘Me Little Stick Of Blackpool Rock,’ which unfortunately doesn’t feature on the boxset.

There’s still more innuendo here than you can shake a stick at, though, so enjoy a sly little giggle at these genius songs. George is probably looking down in approval, grinning his big toothy grin as he lovingly fingers his ukelele. Eeeeeeh, careful now, you cheeky fast cat…!

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

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THE BIG SNOW OF 2018: A THOUGHT (JUST THE ONE, I SWEAR!) FROM SANDRA HARRIS. ©

snowdogThe snow is thick on the ground here now and the blizzard is supposed to start around four. Like all Irish people the minute an ’emergency’ rears its ugly head, I will be watching the 5.30 News, the 6 o’clock News and the 9 o’clock News to catch any weather updates. When I venture out, I will smile wryly at everyone I meet, including strangers, in a way that suggests we’re all in this together. In the future, I will refer to this week as ‘The Big Snow Of 2018’ and I will bore younger people who weren’t born yet with anecdotes about how hazardous it was. At times like these, I really love being Irish.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

snowdoghttps://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

A QUARTET OF GRISLY HORROR FILMS REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

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THE CABIN AT SORROW CREEK, DARK SILENCE, BOO AND THE SHRINE: A QUARTET OF GRISLY HORROR MOVIE REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I bought all four of these American horror flicks cheaply enough in a second-hand shop during the week and I thoroughly enjoyed watching ’em two-at-a-time over the course of two nights. One was creepy enough and well-made but the ghosties were lame and one had great potential but didn’t really live up to it.

Another one was just baffling and a chaotic mess, but with a fantastic setting. And yet another was so scary and well-made that it gave me freakin’ nightmares. Let’s dive in and see which one is which. Mind you, as I’ve pretty much gone in order, you guys shouldn’t have any difficulty in working it out, lol.

THE CABIN AT SORROW CREEK (2007) started off brilliantly. Four young people are trekking through the woods to find the cabin where two of their number, sisters Kayla and Jesse, used to spend their childhood summers.

It belongs to their grandfather, see? They’re dragging two guys along as well, Kayla’s hot boyfriend Dean and another lad called Tobe who has heart problems. You just know that that’s gonna come into play at some point when things all start kicking off, dontcha…?

Things are okay until Jesse decides to linger in the spooky forest to take a bark rubbing of some trees. She’s the last to reach the cabin, and when she finally arrives, she’s been savagely mauled by person or persons unknown and she tells the others that ‘they’ are coming for her and also, she presumes, for the rest of her party as well…

Things start to disintegrate for the buddies pretty quickly as it emerges that Jesse was telling the truth and the cabin is, in fact, under siege by a couple of strange creatures. This is where an otherwise atmospheric and creepily effective horror film sadly falls apart. The two ghosts are lame and even clichéd and let the film down a good bit. If it wasn’t for this, this movie would be a top-notch little chiller.

DARK SILENCE (2016) is like a lower-budget version of HIDE-AND-SEEK starring Robert DeNiro. It’s about a man called Craig whose young daughter Jennifer has been left unable to talk after the suspicious death of her mother, Craig’s wife, with whom we know (through flashbacks) he had a troubled relationship.

Craig and Jennifer move into a big old house which is quite obviously haunted. The fact that Craig doesn’t immediately work this out shows us just how remiss he is a parent. His sister Susan, who doesn’t seem to like Craig very much and who seems to be blaming him for something pretty major, is the only person from the outside world they ever seem to see.

Jennifer, who communicates now only through her drawings, begins to include a tall, faceless dark-cloaked figure in her pictures. The figure is pictured coming out of her wardrobe and Craig is torn between being afraid for her safety and berating the shit out of the child for her over-active imagination. When Jennifer disappears, Craig knows that she was telling the truth about the sinister black-clothed figure.

Craig has been having nightmares in which the sinister figure also figures. When Craig realises that he himself can get into the missing Jennifer’s dreams as well, he knows that that’s where he needs to go to find her and rescue her from the clutches of Mister Razor-Teeth. That’s the villain, see?

But Craig has a guilty secret or two hanging over him. Will these effect the eventual outcome, and who will come off best in the inevitable showdown, Craig or Mister Razor-Teeth? There’s only one way to find out, and that’s by watching the film, dear readers. Or maybe someone who’s already seen the film could tell you what happens. Or you could check on Wikipedia. I guess there’s more than one way to skin a cat, as they say…

BOO (2005) is a fun bit of nonsense that you needn’t take too seriously. It basically involves two separate groups of people running madly around the same abandoned mental hospital called the Santa Mira Hospital one Halloween night.

One group is, of course, the sexy teens, two of whom are cheating on the pretty blonde lead girl, Jessie Lynn. The other group is a couple-a half-assed cops who are looking for the missing sister of one of them. Why they think she’d be wandering around in an abandoned old mental hospital on Halloween Night of all nights is anybody’s guess, but whatevs.

Anyway, the back-story to the hospital’s being haunted is that a male inmate, a paedophile, once set the third floor on fire while trying to escape and a load of people, himself included and also the nurse in charge of his ward and a little girl on whom he was preying, all burned to death.

Now, his evil spirit needs a living human body to take over and possess, so that he can walk out of the place a free- and living- man. As there are any number of dopes running around the old asylum on this particular night, I’d say that he can have his pick, lol.

A lot of what happens makes no sense whatsoever. Also, why would the ghost of a clown be haunting an old asylum, unless he was doing a show there to entertain the inmates on the day of the fire and burned to death and so became trapped there forever? Some of the stuff that happens in this film is just too bizarre to even attempt to explain.

On the other hand, the film references other classic horror movies like SCREAM (which I hate!) and John Carpenter’s THE THING (which I adore!) and the asylum itself is deliciously creepy. Another horror film might have made better use of such a marvellous setting.

Also, veteran scream queen Dee Wallace Stone is fantastic here as the nurse who refuses to take any shit from the creepy paedophile inmate. Well, taking shit from patients isn’t in her job description, obviously. They have latrines and commodes for that type of thing…

THE SHRINE (2010) is the cream of this crop, the jewel in the crown, the icing on the cake, the bees’ knees, the spiders’ ankles and the cats’ pyjamas, all rolled into one. It was so good that it was the first horror film to give me the major creeps and even nightmares since I saw Mario Bava’s BLACK SABBATH back in January of this year. Can’t believe it’s bloody well March already. I haven’t even begun to achieve my life goals for last year, never mind this year, fuss fuss.

Anyway, THE SHRINE…! Well, what can I say about such a killer horror flick? A gorgeous brunette journalist called Carmen travels to a remote Polish village to solve the mystery of some disappearances that have been happening there.

Rumours of cult activity and even human sacrifice convince the ambitious Carmen that there’s a story here that could give her flagging career the shot-in-the-arm it badly needs. Her boss doesn’t even know she’s high-tailing it off to Poland, so everything rests on Carmen being able to get her story.

She drags along her unwilling photographer boyfriend Marcus and a journalist intern from her office called Sarah. When they get to the village, peopled mostly by drop-dead sexy Polish guys who attend to their work sans jumpers or shirts, they find a ton of stuff that puts the willies up them big-time.

Firstly, the Polish men are extremely hostile to the three of them and warn them to leave or else. Or else what? Well, threats of violence have been made, that’s what. Serious threats too, unless I miss my mark. The three Americans decide unwisely to continue poking about anyway. First on the must-visit list is the mysterious fog that hangs like a pall over the forest.

Off they go into the fog, or at least the two girls do, leaving a chicken Marcus to hang back. The thing that’s in the fog is mainly what gave me the nightmares. Then the trio find the creepy bunker in the forest that has all the coffins in it.

The occupants of the coffins have had something absolutely appalling done to their bodies and faces. Is this the fate in store for Carmen, Marcus and the timid little Sarah if they stick around? Just what heinously Godless atrocities have these freaky-ass villagers been committing, and why? The answers may surprise you. Carmen will get her story all right. But will she remain alive to write it up, that’s the real question…

I’m off now to batten down the hatches for Storm Emma, due to ravage our snowy shores later on today. Storm Ophelia back in October may have been a damp squib for most of us Dubliners, but we’ve been informed that Storm Emma is the real deal.

Some pretty big shit will be going down later. Our very own Taoiseach has guaranteed it, and would a politician lie to the public? Certainly not. Snuggle up with a few good horror films (THE SHRINE, if you have it!) and stay safe. It’ll all be over by Christmas…!

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

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